Aaqib Javed salutes his captain marvel as Khurram Khan sets up vital World Cup qualifying win for UAE over Hong Kong, writes Paul Radley.
Javed praises ‘strong leader’ Khurram Khan after pacing UAE through to World Cup qualifying Super Six
Aaqib Javed, the UAE coach, has lauded Khurram Khan as the perfect role model after the captain guided the national team through to the Super Six stage of the World Cup qualifier.
Khurram has been the bedrock of the national team for the past decade and realises he is facing his last shot at playing at a World Cup.
As has been typical during the course of his fine international career, it was he who took responsibility for bringing about a vital win over Hong Kong in the final pool match in New Zealand.
The left-hander’s 68-ball innings of 78 helped the UAE reach 249, but the captain felt that was some way short of par at the high-scoring venue, the Queenstown Events Centre.
However, the UAE’s new-look attack of pace-bowlers had the measure of a Hong Kong batting line-up who had been irresistible in the previous three matches in the tournament.
“Khurram Khan is such a strong leader,” said Aaqib, the former Pakistan bowler who is targeting participation at three World Cups with the UAE, as they are already preparing for the Under 19 and Twenty20 versions.
“He never just leaves the responsibility to anybody else rather than himself. He sets a perfect example, and is a wonderful captain.”
UAE and Hong Kong have been regular combatants in Asian cricket in recent years, with the national team generally having the better record in matches between the two.
As such, the national team were unconcerned by the blistering form their rivals’ top-order, in particular, had managed in the tournament before their encounter.
Their confidence proved well founded after Manjula Guruge, the Sri Lankan left-arm seamer, made incisions with the new ball, including the prize wicket of Irfan Ahmed for just four.
Guruge ended with four for 29, while Rohan Mustafa took the concept of his role as all-rounder to the extremes.
Having earlier player a vital late hand by scoring 32 with the bat, Mustafa sent down five overs of pace then 4.4 of off-spin, and picked up three wickets in the process,
“We have played against Hong Kong a lot in the past, we know their strengths and saw that they had been scoring lots of runs,” Khurram said.
“We knew we had to get Irfan and Mark Chapman out because they were the guys who had been scoring runs for them and it worked out well for us.
“I think we were 30 or 40 runs short but the bowlers bowled their hearts out. They all bowled superbly.”
The UAE would have advanced to the next stage even in defeat, yet the points they carry forward from the 22 run win could prove crucial.
The national team have progressed along with Scotland and Hong Kong, with each side taking two points through to the next phase.
They now have fixtures against Papua New Guinea, the surprise winners of the other group, Namibia and Kenya, each of whom the national team have a good recent record against.
The top two sides in the Super Six phase will contest Saturday’s final, but more pertinently each will earn a place at next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.